Saturday in the Octave of Easter
A friend of mine and I have occasionally gotten together and recorded little 5 minute shorts about some topic regarding the faith. We called them Trailblazers and have always had a blast recording them. We’ve opened with references to Pinky and the Brain, compared God and Tolkien, likened Lent to spring practice for baseball, and bounced all over the place. During one episode we recorded, my friend shared a quote from C.S. Lewis that immediately came to mind as I read today’s readings.
Clive Staples Lewis, in his book/essay, The Weight of Glory, wrote these words, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption” (emphasis added). When these words came to mind, they bridged several gaps I noticed as I reflected on today’s readings.
The first gap I noticed was between the leaders and the Apostles. The leaders and elders on one side of the gap have started with presumptions and an air of superiority. They are flabbergasted by the Apostles because they judged them as ordinary people and in their reeling indecision hold fast to their presumptions. Meanwhile, it is in the Apostles that we see Lewis’ words on display. They don’t flippantly disregard the leaders, but in earnestness appeal to their consciences making it clear that that they will obey them. They don’t browbeat the leaders into silence with their signs and wonders but invite them to engage with the mystery because they recognize that it is immortals with whom they contest. And yet, the Apostles are their own gap.
There seems to be a disconnect between the hard of heart apostles in Mark the Apostles as presented in Acts. These earnest men of conscience that we see in Acts are different from the men hiding in the upper room. I would argue a large part of that difference is due to Pentecost, but a significant portion is also due to their encounter with the Risen Christ. In encountering the Risen Lord, they came face-to-face with evidence that death does not have the last word, that, through Jesus’ resurrection, there are no mere mortals.
Finally, it is easy to look at other people and see where their treatment of others falls short of the ideal, in this case, C.S. Lewis’ call to put away flippancy, superiority, and presumption. It is far harder to measure ourselves against the ideal. Where do we respond to others flippantly? How do our presumptions make walking as disciples more difficult? Who are the people that we fail to treat as equal in dignity to us? When we see people do we see mere mortals or fellow immortals, loved into existence by the Father? What if this person is unable to read, has disabilities, grew up speaking a different language or has different skin color? Do we recognize them as the immortals that they are?
- Spencer Hargadon